By: Sheila Birnbach
Clearly the verdict is still out with regard to the validity of work-from-home arrangements.
Despite the fact that mobile devices and the current wireless networking technology have enabled people to work from most anywhere, and have freed people from the restriction to be in “the” office to do business, the idea of telecommuting still raises skepticism from many executives.
On one side of the argument, some managers believe that team members can only do their best work when on site. Some have told me that this builds the kind of camaraderie, collaboration, and teamwork necessary for their operations to succeed. Impromptu discussions arise when people are in physical proximity to one another. Others fear a loss of employee productivity if employees are permitted to work from home or other remote locations. Still others are concerned that, without offering the flexibility of telecommuting, highly qualified candidates will look for employment in other organizations. Telecommuting has become a recruitment tool for many organizations.
Every organization has a unique balance of concerns when it comes to telecommuting and telework arrangements. If you are trying to decide whether to allow employees to work remotely, here are a few important considerations:
Who will be eligible?
- Will only full-time employees be allowed to telework or will the option be open to full and part-time employees?
- Will certain employees be eligible for temporary telework arrangements under certain circumstances (e.g., during convalescence from an illness or injury, or while a family member is recovering from an illness or injury, during pregnancy, or to complete a project that requires minimal interruptions)?
- Which jobs lend themselves to teleworking?
- What level of overall job performance will be required?
- What length of employment will be required as a pre-condition?
- Are we ensuring that all such arrangements are offered without discrimination on any prohibited basis?
- How frequently will the arrangement be reviewed?
- During what core hours must the employee be available (e.g., for telephone or conference calls)?
- How will we ensure wage and hour compliance?
- How will we identify compensable work time?
- How will we control unauthorized off-the-clock work?
- Will you require that a space in the home be designated for the organization’s work?
- How will you ensure that the work space provides the safety and security of the organization’s information, equipment, and supplies?
- Will the workspace be available for inspection by the employer and/or OSHA?
Confidentiality and Security
- How will proprietary and member information be secured?
Equipment and Software
- What types of equipment will be provided by the organization?
- What types of equipment and supplies will be provided by the individual?
- If individual-owned equipment or software is to be used, what, if anything, will the organization reimburse?
- Who will be responsible for maintenance and repair of personally-owned equipment that is used for the organization’s purposes?
- How will personally-owned equipment be configured to meet the organization’s security requirements?
- Who will be responsible for any accidents or injuries that occur in the secondary work space during scheduled work hours while the employee is working?
- What coverage is provided by your current insurance policy?
- Are special protections needed for telecommuters?
- What will be the process for terminating the telework agreement?
If you are considering a telecommuting policy, you can find a sample copy, complete with a Telework Agreement on my website—Telecommuting Policy.
Hopefully these questions will guide your thinking as you consider allowing employees to work remotely.
If I can support your success or the success of your organization, I hope you’ll call on me. For more information on my company, visit www.birnbachsuccesssolutions.com.
Check NCACPA’s catalog in late March for Shelia’s HR and Management courses.
Sheila Birnbach is the owner of Birnbach Success Solutions (formerly G B Associates, Inc), which has become one of the foremost consulting firms enabling organizations and individuals to achieve peak performance. Birnbach Success Solutions works with small and mid-sized organizations to attract and retain great employees, offer superior customer service that sets them apart from their competitors, and build cohesive teams.